Presidential race Tough TV duel between US Republicans Haley and DeSantis

While Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis bicker on the TV stage during a debate, Donald Trump performs his standard repertoire on another channel. The Republican presidential primaries are approaching.

The US Republicans Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis staged harsh mutual attacks shortly before the start of the presidential primaries in order to catch up with the party’s internal leader Donald Trump.

At a television debate between the Republican presidential candidates on Wednesday evening (local time) in the state of Iowa, Haley and DeSantis were on stage for the first time and fought a duel. The former US ambassador to the United Nations and Florida’s governor used almost every answer to verbally attack the other. Trump, whom both made rather tame attacks, once again stayed away from the group and instead did his usual program at a solo town hall for another TV station.

The first Republican primary is coming up in Iowa next week. Anyone who wants to become the party’s presidential candidate must first prevail in the internal votes in the individual states. The actual presidential election is at the beginning of November. In polls, Trump is far ahead in the shrinking field of Republican candidates despite all the scandals and legal problems and is generally almost 50 percentage points ahead of Haley and DeSantis. In the first two primary states, Iowa and New Hampshire, the gap is smaller, and things are looking better, especially for Haley. She and DeSantis are currently primarily fighting for second place.

Attack and counterattack

During their duel on the television stage in Iowa, Haley and DeSantis were tangled up in constant attacks and counterattacks. The governor of Florida accused his party colleague of being opportunistic, having repeatedly changed her positions in the past and, above all, catering to the wishes of rich donors. The 45-year-old scoffed three times that the country didn’t need “pale pastel tones” but rather a clear-cut course. Haley is the only woman among the Republican presidential hopefuls and wore a pastel dress to the debate.

The former governor of the state of South Carolina, in turn, consistently called DeSantis a liar and referred time and again to a website on her election campaign that listed his untruths. Haley teased that DeSantis was just jealous that donors had turned away from him and were now supporting her. “You’re so desperate,” she threw at him.

Tame criticism of Trump

Both tried once again to score points with tough messages, for example towards Iran or China. Compared to Trump, however, DeSantis and Haley dared to stand out just a little more than in previous debates. “I appreciate what President Trump has done,” DeSantis said. However, his party colleague did not deliver what he promised in many places. Politicians should be “servants of the people” and not “rulers over the people,” he teased. And with Trump as the candidate, everything would revolve around the past election, legal problems and lawsuits.

Haley was also more reserved towards Trump. “I think he was the right president at the right time. I agree with many of his policies,” she said. But his kind is not hers. She doesn’t care about revenge or drama. And Trump is not the right president for the future. With him there would be “four more years of chaos”. However, the 51-year-old at least emphasized that Trump lost the most recent presidential election against Democrat Joe Biden. Continuing to claim the opposite is wrong, she criticized.

Trump has never admitted his election defeat, but continues to spread lies that the victory was stolen from him through fraud. At that time, he tried with all his might to overturn the election results, which culminated in the unprecedented attack by his supporters on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. The ex-president will have to answer for his role after the election and several other allegations in four criminal cases in the coming months, parallel to the election campaign.

The parallel Trump show

During his solo appearance on the Fox News television channel, which was broadcast parallel to the debate, Trump criticized DeSantis on Wednesday, saying that he was practically no longer in the race. The 77-year-old once again alluded to the fact that he helped DeSantis at the beginning of his career. “He would be working in a pizzeria or maybe a law firm if I hadn’t supported him.”

An important topic of the show was migration. “We will carry out the largest deportation operation in the history of our country,” Trump announced, referring to people without papers in the country. “We’re taking everyone back to where they came from.” Regarding his comment a few weeks ago that he would be a dictator on his first day in office, Trump said that Democrats are portraying him as a dictator. “I will not be a dictator,” he assured, referring to a possible second term in office.

In rare agreement, Haley and DeSantis criticized Trump for refusing to take part in the debate, as he had done in previous rounds. Just a few hours earlier, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, had dropped out of the primary race – in view of the poor poll numbers. In recent weeks, the 61-year-old has stood out as the only Republican presidential candidate to harshly criticize Trump. On Wednesday, he again accused his colleagues of being too cowardly to take on Trump harshly – for fear of frightening his base.